Monday, August 4, 2008

Saint Gwladys a Saint of Newport - and Gellligaer

St Gwladys of Newport and Gelligaer

St Cadoc Stained Glass Window from St Mary's Catholic Church on Stow Hill, Newport.

This post is best read in connection with 'Big Bad Gwynlliw'-the post about how this great Newport Sinner and King became a saint of the Church by repenting and giving himself to God.

Saint Gwladys we know, was one of the family of Brychan Brycheiniog. Brychans family descended from Irish and from the descendents of Joseph of Arimathea.He had many children and grandchildren,of which many became saints of Wales.

Gwladys was said to have been very air and beautiful and Gwynlliw, Chieftain of Glwyssing and Gwent fell deeply in love with her. Under the post about the real Arthur, we find that Gwynlliw carried her off and ran into Arthur, Kai and Bedwyr. Arthur wanted to carry her off himself but his companions restrained him. It seems Arthur was an adopted brother of his companions but did not understand the customs of that land or that Gwynlliw outranked him.

Gwladys no doubt was forced into marriage, according to one hagiographer but the account of the Monk of Gloucester ,who wrote another hagiography in later times, there is no mention of this. However, we know that with her saintly son, who became one of the great saints of Wales, and Guardians of the Grail, that this must have been the Will of God. It is possible that Gwynlliw married Gwladys on the way back to the Newport area from Talgarth where the Brychan family had their HQ and there is no doubt at all that Gelligaer became important to Gwladys, either because she knew it as a child or because it had some special significance for her. Al(who has sent me some information and some fab pics) says it feels the place where Capel Gwladys was built was a the top of the mountains at Gelligaer.

There is another post 'The Children of Gwynlliw' in this blog series which tells of Gwladys Children Cadoc, Cynydir, Cyfiw, Maches etc. There is no doubt she had much heartache with the death of her daughter Maches by Saxons at Llanvaches. Her remains are in the Church of St Tathan(and Stephen) in Caerwent parish church.

She remained at Llanfair (the little Church of Our Lady on Stow Hill)following Gwynlliw's conversion to the faith following his dream. She had Cadoc catechised Gwynlliw who repented of his bandit ways and settled down as a monastic, while he supervised his brothers who were all ruling different areas of Gwent. It is interesting to know that the little church at Michelston y Fedw near Castleton contains an ancient font today, from this time and that the font in Llanhilleth church dates from this time too. Might Cadoc have been baptised in a similar font? Details of Cadoc's baptism are in posts about him.

Gwladys' Story

Gwladys is a central strong woman in the centre of the profiles of all her children and her husband. We know that Gwynlliw loved her. She and Gwynlliw used to bathe naked in the cold water of the River Usk to curb their desires. In the early years of the church Chstity was a strong part of the message-in fact even amongst married people who had ceased having children. For a while she and Gwynlliw lived together as religious at Llanfair on Stow Hill in Newport(not called that then)where he had seen his vision and been comanded to build his chapel. This Chapel is still part of St Woolos Cathedral today after you enter the tower, you can see the original church , which has been upgraded through the ages and even houses the effigy of a Knight of the Holy Sepluchre and a Crusader in more recent times.Gwnlliw's burial site is also still there as well now in the nave.

The whole story of St Woolos is still to come in a Soundeseeing tour of St Woolos in Newport.

At some point, Cadog seems to have suggested that his Mother retire to Pont Ebbw at Bassaleg and retuire with her ladies to the life of a nun.People believed Jesus was coming soon and this might have been why, but also Gwynlliw may have developed a disease of some kind and it may not have been safe for her to stay. No matter, she retired to her little monastery at the foot of the Hill at which Bassaleg Church now stands.

Following the death of Gwynlliw (St Cadoc and Dubricius being in attendance)Cadoc it is believed retired to Gelligaer where another Church and 'llan' no doubt built in her memory. Here she died but it is believed her body returned to Newport to be buried at her church at Bassaleg. A Capel y Bedd existed at Gwladys Church at Bassaleg until fairly recent times. Sir Richard Hoare is meant to have sketched it, and Sir Joseph Bradney mentioned it.

Below see Al's stunning pictures (copyright)of Capel Gwladys at Gelligaer


St Gwladys Dedication of the Catholic Church in Rogerstone. Risca

The influence of this kindly and much loved saint and mother is the patron of the newer Catholic Church at Risca which has been dedicated to her and Masses said each week.A woman who made the best of the bad event, an abduction, turned her husband around, brought many children up, not only in the Christian faith but as great saints, converted her husband out of love,embracing the life of a religious and finally creating a new chapel and dying in the faith at Gelligaer. Truly an inspirational saint for the people of Rogerstone and Risca-and Newport and the rest of Gwent/Monmouthshire.She is one of the 'Holy Women' of the Church.

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